MOSCOW, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Russia's deputy foreign minister on Tuesday dismissed the expansion of U.S. sanctions against Iran as "illegitimate."
Sergei Ryabkov told reporters at the Iranian embassy in Moscow that the unilateral sanctions have no legal ground and will destroy "a healthy and positive basis for further progress to settle the Iranian nuclear issue."
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department announced actions targeting a number of companies and individuals around the world for evading sanctions.
However Ryabkov said the sanctions contradict the normal advancement of international relations and hamper the progress of nuclear talks.
Read more: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2014-02/11/c_126117148.htm
By Daryna Krasnolutska and Volodymyr Verbyany Feb 11, 2014
Mikhail Zhyzneuskis pallbearers wore black balaclavas and camouflage jackets as they carried his coffin through crowds of mourners in Ukraines capital Jan. 26.
The 25-year-old from Belarus died last month from gunshot wounds as anti-government protests in Kiev turned deadly. He was part of the nationalist Pravyi Sektor movement, whose supporters joined demonstrators demanding an end to Viktor Yanukovychs presidency. The group claims it played a central role in the violent lurch in Ukraines crisis.
The radicals, who joined the 11-week-old protests sparked by Yanukovych spurning European integration for a Russian bailout, dont answer to Kiev camp leaders and are threatening to renew the unrest thats sparked warnings of civil war. Their arrival may also bolster nationalist forays into mainstream politics, like in other European countries such as Greece.
The opposition now has limited control over the protest camp, said Iryna Bekeshkina, director of the Democratic Initiative Foundation, a Kiev-based research group that focuses on Ukraines integration to the West. If the radicals want more clashes, theyll happen.
Weeks of peaceful protests turned violent Jan. 19 as new anti-rally laws sparked clashes. Activists hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at riot police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. Three protesters died of gunshot wounds and more than 1,000 are in hospitals. Three policemen died.
At the heart of the violence is Pravyi Sektor, an umbrella group uniting nationalist organizations. They include Tryzub, which aims to foster an independent Ukraine free of foreign influence. Bilyi Molot, or White Hammer, opposes mass immigration and bases its ideology on Stepan Bandera, who fought Soviet rule in the 1930s, at times alongside Nazi Germany.
By Jim Efstathiou Jr. Feb 11, 2014
Growing up in Tennessee, all Justin King ever heard about labor unions was that they were bad.
This week, after three years working at the Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, King said he will vote to join the United Auto Workers, and the prospect of a union win has officials across the South on edge. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has tried to talk Volkswagen out of going along, warning that the vote will discourage other companies from investing in the state where only 6.1 percent of the workforce was in a union in 2013.
What Ive told them is our concerns are your long-term objectives, Haslam told the editorial board of the Tennessean newspaper Feb. 5 about his talks with Volkswagen. Youve been saying you need to cut the costs of producing the vehicle and you want a better supply network close to you. And Im not certain how the UAW helps either one of those.
For decades, the South has been able to capitalize on its lower wages and lack of labor unions to lure companies and jobs from northern states. The UAW vote, which would make the Volkswagen plant the first foreign-owned car factory in the U.S. with a labor union, threatens to change that, and both sides are working hard to steer the outcome their way.
Outside lobby groups, including one tied to anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, have entered the fray, using billboard advertising and editorials in local newspapers to build opposition to the UAW. Labor advocates say a victory for the UAW will boost efforts to organize other companies and perhaps begin to reverse a decades-long trend in declining membership.
In the wake of troubling revelations about the handling of sexual assault charges on U.S. military bases in Japan, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is calling on the Pentagon to hand over detailed information about sexual assault cases at major U.S. military bases.
Gillibrand, the chief sponsor of a bill to combat sexual assault in the military, sent a letter Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, demanding information pertaining to reports of sexual assault and related offenses from January 1, 2009 through January 1, 2014 at Fort Hood, Naval Station Norfolk, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Gillibrands spokesperson, Glen Caplin, said in a statement that the senator has a responsibility to review the data in light of documents revealing the chaotic way the U.S. military handled sexual assault cases in Japan. The documents, obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request, shed light on more than 1,000 reports of sex crimes involving U.S. military personnel based in Japan from 2005 through early 2013.
"As the Chair of the Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, it would be irresponsible [for the senator] to assume or conclude the 'chaotic' nature of 'random and inconsistent judgments' in Japan is an anomaly, a further review of data from additional bases is essential to provide transparency and accountability, Caplin said in a statement to CBS News.
The AP report showed that charges of rape were often reduced, even in cases with strong evidence. Of the 244 servicemembers whose punishments were detailed in the records, nearly two-thirds were not incarcerated.
Opponents of Internet surveillance, including groups from both the left and right of the political spectrum, plan a day of online protest tomorrow (Feb. 11) against the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and its British equivalent, GCHQ.
Calling the protest "The Day We Fight Back," organizers are planning marches and lectures worldwide, and are also providing software tools for website owners to add banners, and social-media users to overlay profile photos, in support of the effort.
The effort hasn't garnered any overt support from Silicon Valley tech companies, who have formed their own anti-NSA coalition, Reform Government Surveillance, to directly influence congressional lawmakers.
Yet a Facebook spokeswoman told Tom's Guide that Facebook would be participating in The Day We Fight Back, without specifying further. Another source suggested the Reform Government Surveillance group as a whole it includes AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo would be on board.
"We aren't going to let the NSA and its allies ruin the Internet," states a manifesto posted on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the Day We Fight Back's organizers. "The world will demand an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics."
Source: Associated Press
By EDITH M. LEDERER
1 hour ago
UNITED NATIONS (AP) Russia is scuttling Western efforts to push through a Security Council resolution that would raise the prospect of sanctions against Syria unless the government gives unrestricted access to deliver humanitarian aid.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin vowed to veto the proposed measure if necessary. Both he and China's U.N. ambassador were no-shows at a meeting Monday to discuss the Western and Arab-backed resolution.
Churkin dismissed the resolution as a "political" measure introduced "to whip up political tensions around Syria."
"We felt that the text was beyond redemption," Churkin said, explaining why Russia didn't bother to attend the meeting. "This text would not have any positive impact on the situation. If anything, it would create disruption of humanitarian efforts."
Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/russia-china-skip-security-council-talks-syria-214829285.html
By Parisa Hafezi
ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran's military has successfully test-fired two new domestically made missiles, the defense minister said on Monday according to state television, ahead of talks with world powers to try to reach an agreement on curbing Tehran's nuclear program.
Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said one of them was a long-range ballistic missile with radar-evading capabilities.
"The new generation of long-range ground-to-ground ballistic missile with a fragmentation warhead and the laser-guided air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile dubbed Bina (Insightful) have been successfully test-fired," state television quoted him as saying.
"The Bina missile is capable of striking important targets such as bridges, tanks and enemy command centers with great precision."
Iran already has long-range surface-to-surface Shahab missiles with a range of about 2,000 km (1,250 miles) that are capable of reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the Middle East. However, analysts have challenged some of Iran's military assertions, saying it often exaggerates its capabilities.
In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke with Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster for the George Washington University Battleground Poll. Lake shared her insights with us on the mood of the electorate and Democrats' turnout challenges as the 2014 midterms approach.
Here are four takeaways:
1. We're in unfamiliar territory when it comes to voters' frustrations with government and the economy: The last time Americans felt this sour about their government was during the Watergate scandal, Lake said. Americans are fed up with both parties, and their frustration with Congress has gotten to the point where voters are even souring to some extent on their own representatives in Congress. "They're not ready to fire their guy yet, but they've definitely put their guy on notice," Lake said. But unlike the Watergate era, Lake said, today's voters are also strongly frustrated with the state of the economy. And this time voters' disgust with government stems not from corruption scandals but from a perception that government is highly polarized and can't get anything done: "It's really hard to imagine, 'Where does this end, where does this come out?'"
2. Democrats need to talk more about jobs. Their focus on the minimum wage isn't a jobs platform: Yes, raising the minimum wage, which many Democrats have proposed as a way to tackle income inequality, polls well with voters. It even gets support from half of Republicans, Lake said. But she cautions: "I think the winning prescription is actually something that Democrats don't talk about right now, and that's jobs." Voters care even more about jobs, she suggested; a recent Battleground poll showed that a far greater fraction of voters wanted President Obama to address jobs/the economy in his State of the Union address than the fraction that wanted him to address income inequality. So while Americans like the idea of raising the minimum wage, "people don't think that's a major jobs platform," Lake said.
3. All signs point toward a midterm electorate that's more friendly to Republicans than in 2012: Historically, turnout tends to favor Republicans in midterm elections anyway. As if that didn't pose enough of a problem for Democrats, Republicans are fired up after the botched rollout of the ObamaCare insurance exchanges, and key Democratic constituencies, namely single women and young people, are "very disengaged," Lake said of the Battleground Poll results. All told, "I think you can expect a much whiter, older electorate in 2014 than you had in 2012 for sure."
4. Energizing young voters will be especially difficult for Democrats: Democrat Terry McAuliffe's campaign organization in the Virginia gubernatorial race was able to get Democratic-leaning single women to the polls in an off-year election, but not the crucial young-voter demographic that helped propel Democrats to the White House in 2008 and 2012. Young voters are discouraged about the state of the economy, the jobs market, and their education costs, Lake said: "I think we could see record-low turnout of young people, frankly." To help boost youth turnout, Democrats need the strong organization and digital operations that Obama's presidential campaigns had, and a greater focus on jobs than Democrats have right now. Democrats also need all the help they can get from voting inducements such as early voting and same-day registration, but Republican-controlled state governments have sought to roll back such initiatives. Another potential tool is ballot initiatives that concern issues that young people strongly care about, such as the minimum wage, student loans and marijuana legalization.
Listen to the entire conversation:
By John Byrne
Monday, February 10, 2014 9:28 EST
Be careful when you answer the phone.
Thats the message you might heed when considering National Security Operations and CIA operations in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, according to a new report.
According to documents and an interview with an alleged former drone operator, the United States uses geolocation targeting that tracks the location of mobile phones to plot strikes on targets in countries where it believes militants are hiding out. Trouble is, theyre not necessarily coupling it with information on the ground, meaning that strike targets can be determined by the locations of their phones alone.
Whats more, the fact that the U.S. may rely solely on phone locations means that others can easily become victims of a strike. According the former drone operator quoted in the report, published Monday by Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill in First Look, those who believe they might be targets have taken to sharing SIM cards, meaning the actual identities of those carrying phones are obscured.
They might have been terrorists, he says. Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the targets activities.
Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there, he continues. But we dont know whos behind it, whos holding it. Its of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an unlawful enemy combatant. This is where it gets very shady.
By Scott Kaufman
Monday, February 10, 2014 8:52 EST
In an unprecedented move, authorities in Florida are targeting bitcoin traders simply for purchasing the currency.
Unlike previous prosecutions in which Bitcoin users were suspected of participating in other illegal activities, the Miami Beach Police Department is claiming that purchasing the currency is itself a crime punishable under state anti-money-laundering laws.
One of the men targeted is a user of localbitcoins.com named Michelhack. The site facilitates in-person meetings between Bitcoin owners and prospective buyers, and Michelhack had a 99 percent approval rating, so undercover agents from the United States Secret Services Electronic Crimes Task Force set up a meeting with him at which they exchanged a bitcoin for $1,000.
With that trust established, the undercover agent then arranged to purchase $30,000 more in bitcoins from Michelhack and, according to court documents, told him that they were to be used to purchase stolen credit cards.
Although Michelhack who investigators identified as Miami Beach resident Michell Abner Espinoza wasnt involved in the credit card scheme, he was arrested yesterday on charges of making an unlicensed money transmission of between $300 and $20,000, and on money laundering charges for trading in currency valued at more than $10,000.
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